Thursday, March 27, 2008

distrubing statistics

I went to a conference/fair for librarians in Dade County, and while sitting in on one of the talks I was shocked.

The talk was about researching medical information on the internet, but the speaker included some information that scared me.

In the United States 49% of the population does not read the English language above the 8th grade level.
In the State of Florida that percentage is 51%.
In Miami Dade County that percentage jumps to 76%
In the city of Miami that percentage jumps to 86%.

Now some of the reasons that the statistic is so high in Miami is that people come here from other countries where they were educated in their first language . When they get to Miami they may learn to speak English, but they don't learn to READ English.

The trouble is that most medical literature in printed brochures, is written on a 10th grade level or ABOVE. So people who can't read are given medicines with instructions brochures they don't understand.

Official websites aren't much better, filled with ads and jargon - cluttered with information that is confusing.

So there is a move afoot to make such official webpages (like CDC and other government wepsites) written in a way that's "easy to read". But that doesn't really solve the literacy problem does it? it's only dummies down the information available, and gives only basic information, supplemented with picutres and icons and large print.

Another problem is now new regulations from HIPPA requires "privacy" on medication lables.
So the name of the medicine is on the lable now, and the instructions on how to take it - like 3 times a day. But they aren't allowed to put WHAT the medicine is prescribed for on the label. Now, a person who reads on a 5th grade level gets two prescriptions. Both have generic named pills that are round and white. One pill is for anxiety, the other is for blood pressure. The patient remembers that he has to take ONE of those pills 2 times a day (every 12 hours with food) and the other pill for blood pressure once a day in the morning. If he can't read the label, and he can't remember every word the doctor told him in the office, if he can't remember what the longer generic name of the pill he was given how can he determine how to take that pill correctly? What if he doubles the dose of blood pressure medication and damages his cardio vascular system? What if he over doses on the anit-anxiety medications?

This is one reason there are "medication errors". The inability to read English. Another?


Hey let's cut the education budget...make it even harder for kids to be taught to read.
Hey let's stop providing public schools with money for teaching English reading skills to recent immigrants.

It's not about doing what's right any more, it's about the money.

The money.

What is this world coming to when it's always about the money?

Money for education as a political tool to kick around.

Money to keep the pharmacies selling those druge.

Money, money money.

Money is apparently more important than either health or education.

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